This month the Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce held an all-candidates provincial debate. The topics covered were broad, but the YPN asked four questions pertinent to our members. We’ve recapped the answers to the questions here. The questions we asked are listed first. Note that the YPN does not endorse any candidate, and this review is simply to pick out a few key points from their responses. For a party’s full platform, see their websites. Most importantly, we care that you get out and VOTE on June 7th! Learn more about voting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQusn_dLLJ0
1.Over the past number of years, child care has become an issue of critical importance, both to support families and to grow the economy. Unfortunately, the cost and availability of high-quality child care has become a barrier for many parents. If elected, how would you support access to affordable, high-quality child care spaces for families in Ontario with children from 0-4?
Michelle: the NDP will make daycare public, licensed, and non-profit. Access will begin at newborn, and pricing will be geared in income.
Steve: 75% of the costs will go back to the parents.
David: currently is free for 2.5-5-year-olds, and noted that there will be a cap in the Conservative plan
2. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Young People starting their careers’, and living in your riding, and what will your party do to support them with this issue?
Steve: the need for training for skilled trades and opportunities in these fields.
David: getting the first opportunity in the workforce, which grants for hiring youth helps, and accessibility to school
Michelle: the ability to go into the career they want, which will be mitigated by replacing student loans with grants
3. The youth unemployment rate in Ontario is significantly higher than that of the general population. We know that youth who gain work experience and receive on the job training are likelier to find suitable and sustainable employment. What are your plans to help Ontario’s young people obtain work and experience?
Michelle: grants instead of tuition, new paid coops, accurate stats for chosen field and expand STEM
Steve: expanding on skilled trades, matching people to jobs in their community
David: need to continue to raise high school completion rates then get them into school after
4. What methods will you advocate for, if any, to alleviate the heavy burden of first time homeownership for those seeking to make a first-home purchase?
David: need to be careful in this alleviation, instead focus on lessening other burdens like student debt, need a regional approach to financial rules cannot be done here the same as in Toronto
Michelle: crack down on speculators and re-invest into affordable housing
Steve: need to look at the viability of tiny homes and the zoning in place for municipalities, also look at affordable housing
5. Bill 148 has been implemented for the past 5 months, could you please discuss the implications for Ontario constituents and small and large business? Address your perception of the benefits, and also the issues that remain to be addressed. If elected, what, if any, changes would you propose to this bill?
Steve: has created a strain and was hastily done. The Conservatives have discussed not moving forward with the increase to $15 in 2019, look at a tax credit instead.
David: there has been a net new 10,000 jobs
Michelle: will move forward to $15 and index to inflation, and seniors and students will not make less than minimum any more.
6. Presently, there is much legislation influencing how businesses create and implement their human resources (i.e.: Bill 168, AODA, OHSA, anti-spam legislation, and consequent inspections and training requirements). Discuss the benefits and issues with these workplace social initiatives, how they have changed Ontario workplaces, and affected businesses, both small and large.
David: it’s important to protect lives, and it may be onerous but good employers do it
Michelle: will expand the definition of occupational illnesses, and include PTSD coverage for front line health workers
Steve: agree it is important, need to focus on a workplace free of harassment and an increase in safety
7. As a region, and as local communities, we have made commitments to receive and support international refugees. Some have arrived, and more are coming, please discuss what your party will be doing to support immigrant and refugee settlement, and introduce targeted education and employment programs for these individuals?
Steve: better pairing of jobs and people
David: mixing of private and sponsor streams
Michelle: strengthen partnerships for settlement services
8. The current Provincial government has recently announced several funding initiatives for downtowns across Ontario, including the Revitalization Fund, the Digital Main Street Fund, and the Accessibility on Main Street Fund. How will your party ensure the vitality of our downtown areas?
David: keep these funds in place and leverage them, and need better resource distribution, and focus on infrastructure that makes the community more competitive
Michelle: There has been large cuts to such spending in the past few years, one thing we’ll do is unfreeze library budgets
Steve: these are good programs that are small in details and work through AMO, but they are still too small amounts of money
9. Many Ontarians rely on not-for-profit and charity organisations for important services in our communities, but to sustainably deliver these essential services, these organisations need public funds. Infrastructure funding is vital to expand and improve the opportunities for citizens to access the programs and services that they need. Please present your plan for addressing the gap in infrastructure funding, and provide support for social support centres.
David: encourage hubs to combine services
Michelle: part of daycare plan is to have more multi-use centres, combining things like mental health services and addiction housing
Steve: continue with capital grants program for libraries, focus on infrastructure projects more geared to rural
10. If elected, what will your top priority be? Please discuss the issue that in your opinion needs to be addressed immediately upon taking the reins.
Michelle: those most in need and the services that help them like affordable housing and minimum and living wage
Steve: economic development and growing cooperation
David: move forward with infrastructure projects on the table
11. Recently, Ontario’s Auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, delivered a report asserting that the current government statements of the provinces’ finances hugely understate its deficit. Specifically, please discuss recent revelations of the financing Hydro debt expenditures with “off the balance sheet” adjustments. Give your perspective on this situation, and describe how your party will work towards ending such seemingly spurious accounting in the future?
Michelle: we will move forward with a fully costed plan
Steve: There has been crowded out spending on health care and other services
David: the Conservatives has said they will use the same accounting methods
12. It has become increasingly clear over many past months that Hydro and Hydro rates have been top of mind concerns for our residents and businesses. The Liberals have put in place the Fair Hydro Rate plan to reduce rates. Give your own analysis of this program, and describe what your party will do to ensure that Hydro rates are minimized for both households and businesses.
Steve: will change conservation programs and monitoring of contracts
David: the current funds go back into infrastructure
Michelle: will bring back into public hands, reduce costs by 30%, and stop time-use-billing
13. Tourism forms a large part of Economic Development revenue for our region. What will you and your party be doing to foster and sustain tourism in our area?
Steve: more funding for local tourism initiatives as no one knows what organizations like the Great Waterway are
David: with move away from manufacturing need to continue product development, and increase Celebrate grants
Michelle: there have been cuts to cultural and arts programs which will be reversed, and bring broadband to rural Ontario
14. Without a post-secondary education, disadvantaged youth have a huge handicap, and are unable to contribute to the health and the growth of our increasingly diverse local economy. If elected, what will you and your party be doing to support equity in post-secondary education for socio-economically disadvantaged students?
Michelle: switch from loans to grants
Steve: provide job opportunities after school and continued programming after graduation
David: tuition is free for those in households making under $50k will move to $90k
15. Tax rates are a significant consideration for businesses as they decide where to operate or where to invest. What do you and your party plan on doing to support sustainable business in our region?
David: Small business are those making less than $500k, will reduce tax by 1% and keep competitive through cap and trade
Michelle: move from a focus on large companies though ending corporate tax breaks, close loopholes allowing big corporations to get exemptions meant for small businesses
Steve: institute open for business plan
16. What is your party’s position on levying a Carbon Tax, and on the potential use of the resulting tax revenues? If you will not support the tax, what alternatives will you promote to mitigate the environmental consequences of hydrocarbon energy use.
Steve: no carbon tax, high price will stagnate the economy
David: the Conservatives were for the carbon tax 2 months ago, Liberals will allow technical innovation to move forward
Michelle: focus on turning farm waste into bio-fuel, polluters should pay
17. Many individuals in our community struggle with transportation due to age or economic situation; some also suffer from reduced mobility and that exacerbates the issue. Presently, many of these constituents have difficulty accessing social services, quality health care, and medical specialist centres. How would your party, and you personally ensure that we meet the day to day social and healthcare transportation needs of this segment of our population.
David: transportation in Brockville was created because of the gas tax
Michelle: transportation allows access to health care, will also create mobile health units
Steve: transport is a barrier for getting jobs, need an intercommunity plan